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DJ vs. DJ: Collaborations That Work (And Those That Don’t)

Right at the end of October, Steve Aoki and duo Knife Party announced on MTV a collaboration, a “phat” track called “Pile Driver.” Although the track is set for official release in early 2013, both acts are already including it in their setlists.

Of course, over the years EDM has been around, quite a few collaborations between DJing acts have ensued. Some are worth listening to, while others waste the talents of all artists involved. Where do you think “Pile Driver” will fall?

Out of all DJ collaborations that have occurred over the years, which are some of the stronger efforts and those you should skip over?

The Good:

Tiesto vs. Armin Van Buuren – “Wonder Where You Are”. These days, the only trance Van Buuren does is his radio show, and Tiesto has gone “indie pop.” But, there was a time, roughly seven years ago, when these two heavyweights knew how to drop a melody, and “Wonder Where You Are” serves as a time capsule for that moment.

Tiesto vs. Junkie XL – “Obsession”. A harder, ominous quality, with themes seamlessly shifting from one to the next, makes this vocal-free trance effort perhaps one of the strongest in Tiesto’s career – collaboration or not.

Tiesto vs. Hardwell – “Zero 76”. Since he walked away from trance, Tiesto’s done a fair share of collaborations, some stronger than others. This effort with Hardwell is perhaps his best of his post-trance output. Octave slides juxtaposed with a tribal rhythm and a chromatic crescendo leading into a major beat drop are some of the highlights.

DJ Ralph vs. Avicii – “Break da Floor”. There’s a harder side to usually-melodic Avicii that, these days, only comes out in live performances. “Break da Floor,” one of the Swede prodigy’s first tracks, starts off rough and stays that way, with snippets of melody creeping in.

Deadmau5 vs. Wolfgang Gartner – “Animal Rights”. Collaborations work when they play to the strengths of both producers, and this hard and intense, and occasionally discordant, track does simply that.

BT vs. Paul Van Dyk – “Namistai”. Trance can have an edge and do more than run itself around in arpeggiated circles, and this late 1990s collaboration exemplifies just how great trance used to be. Quick repetition and a constant feeling of urgency and movement trounce out any saccharine melody.

Fedde Le Grand vs. Nicky Romero – “Sparks”. For the full greatness of these two producers, skip out on the vocal version. Le Grand continues the percussiveness of “Put Your Hands Up For Detroit,” with punctuated synth chords adding a moderate melodic component.

Eric Prydz vs. Steve Angello — “Woz Not Woz”. There was a time when Steve Angello had more of a backbone, and this collaboration with Eric Prydz, released before Swedish House Mafia took off, showcases that even soaring strings, once juxtaposed with discordant components, don’t have to damper a track.

The Bad:

AN21 & Max Vangeli vs. Tiesto – “People of the Night”. A lack of cohesiveness dooms even the most promising collaborations. A by-the-numbers house opening swiftly gives way to faux-folk guitar and vocals, making the listener ask himself, “What went wrong in the studio?”

David Guetta vs. Afrojack – “Louder Than Words”. Like “People of the Night, “Louder than Words” starts of moderately promising but then one-third of the way becomes a rote Guetta effort. While the French DJ seems to piggyback off other artists in his collaborations (see “Sunshine” with Avicii), Afrojack isn’t strong enough to do the legwork.

Deadmau5 vs. Kaskade – “I Remember”. Deadmau5 shows he can do the chord thing with “Strobe,” but “I Remember” can be summed up in one word: soporific. “I Remember” to look at my watch, “I Remember” to leave the club, but I don’t remember to dance.

Above & Beyond vs. Gareth Emery – “On a Good Day”. Saccharine, cheesy melodies like this one are why trance music is currently in a rut.

Steve Aoki vs. Laidback Luke – “Turbulence”. If this collaboration was aiming for ground-breaking (or at least airplane-shaking), “Turbulence” has all the excitement of an adult riding on a children’s roller coaster. Lil Jon’s vocals turn it even more cringe-worthy.

By | 2016-12-02T14:59:45+00:00 December 24, 2012|News, Opinion|0 Comments